Xanax® is the most recognized brand name of a drug known generically as alprazolam, which is in the benzodiazepine class of medication and commonly prescribed for its sedation effects. Other brand names include Xanax XR® and Niravam®.
Anxiety disorders are the most common and experienced by 40 million (18.1%) adults in the United States every year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Women are twice as likely as men to develop panic disorders, and about 2.4 million (1.7%) Americans experience them every year.
Prescriptions for benzodiazepine drugs rose 66% over 16 years in the ’90s through 2013. In a study published by the American Public Health Association citing the number of people who died from prescription drug overdoses in 2013, benzodiazepines were involved in 31% of the 22,767 fatal overdoses.
While Xanax is in this class of drugs, so are diazepam (Valium®) and clonazepam (Klonopin®), among others.
Side Effects of Xanax
Although Xanax has some medical applications it’s still a drug with serious risks, including addiction.
Taken as directed, the most common side effects are drowsiness and light-headedness, which can be increased with alcohol.
Other side effects include
- Dry mouth
- Impaired coordination
- Increased or decreased appetite
How Does Xanax Addiction Occur?
A Xanax addiction can develop if taken as prescribed or if misused. Just seven years ago, the Journal of Addiction Medicine cited Dr. John Grobel’s quote in PsychCentral regarding Xanax’s generic form alprazolam: “[It is] not only the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine, but it is the most commonly prescribed psychotropic medication in the United States, accounting for more than 48 million prescriptions dispensed in 2013.”
Prescriptions Can Be Addictive
Even if taken as prescribed, Xanax addiction can occur as tolerance builds. Xanax is not usually intended for everyday use but as needed to soothe intolerable symptoms of panic or anxiety. It is fast-acting but short-lived in its ability to calm a person.
Regular monitoring by a physician is common to check for addiction and to evaluate the medication’s effectiveness. If another medication is pursued due to side effects, there is a reduction method applied to avoid potential withdrawal effects, as abruptly stopping the medication is not recommended.
Harmless Recreational Drug Is Inaccurate
Many people misuse prescription drugs like Xanax, whether they are their own or someone else’s, without fully understanding the risks involved. They may take them recreationally to enjoy the mellow, calming effects of Xanax. The common slang terms for Xanax used this way are
- Blue Footballs
Reasons for taking Xanax vary, but here are some common stories:
- They believe they are safe because they are prescribed by a doctor.
- They are given Xanax by a friend to help “in the moment”.
- They take it with an opioid substance, unaware of how the two interact with each other, such as resulting in toxic levels of medication and possible overdose.
- They are unaware of the science of how Xanax affects the brain and other parts of the central nervous system.
- They may be unaware they have co-occurring disorders, which means two disorders are present. Sometimes this is referred to as dual-diagnosis and is not unusual. If someone has an undiagnosed mental health disorder such as anxiety, they may seek a substance like Xanax to help them cope. This can go wrong, as they aren’t medically supervised, may be taking the wrong dose, and still haven’t addressed healthy habits to help treat their anxiety.
Xanax can be dangerous for someone who has an undiagnosed mental health disorder or physical condition or takes other medications.
A prescription dose is based on many factors including weight and health conditions. Without factoring in these adjustments and potentially including alcohol and other drugs, someone misusing Xanax is at increased risk of having an accident, blacking out, slowing their heart rate, and other health factors.
At Denver Recovery Center, you will be able to speak with our master’s-level therapists to fully understand how your addiction developed and come out much stronger. You will learn thought processes and behaviors that will help you create a new, stronger future.
In addition, if you do have a co-occurring disorder we will work to treat both disorders to ensure you have a full recovery. Addiction recovery at Denver Recovery Center is more than simply stopping the use of Xanax. It is understanding a full, healthy approach to mind, body, and spirit, with caring support from our team of health technicians, your case manager, and licensed therapists.
What Addiction Signs Look Like
If you suspect someone is misusing Xanax, it is often just a feeling based on some non-specific behavior you notice.
Here are some behaviors common with addiction:
- Changes in behavior or appearance
- Isolating behavior
- Failing to meet job or school expectations
- Legal issues
Overdosing by taking Xanax by itself or with other prescriptions occurs when the amount taken reaches toxic levels within your body.
Common physical signs to look for include
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty breathing
What Does Xanax Withdrawal Look Like?
Xanax can be addictive and getting help to treat it is important. There are a variety of possible withdrawal scenarios, and no way to know which particular withdrawal symptoms a person will experience has been determined.
Possible withdrawal experiences
- In one case, under normal dosage, a patient may experience relatively short-lived anxiety and insomnia about one to four days after discontinuing the drug.
- Another situation may see complete withdrawal symptoms present for 10–14 days.
- A third situation may see anxiety return and another medication needs to be evaluated to relieve symptoms.
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
Xanax should be weaned off with medical supervision because abruptly stopping after chronic use and high doses can cause harmful side effects such as
- Withdrawal symptoms
Other, more common symptoms for people who use larger amounts for a longer period are
- Sleep disturbance
- Increased tension and anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Hand tremors
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dry retching and nausea
- Weight loss
- Muscular pain and stiffness
- Multiple perceptual changes
For those taking Xanax as prescribed, a small percent may experience withdrawal at a much lower rate, and it often mimics anxiety symptoms.
Fortunately, rehab centers help clients find their way through recovery, providing a range of therapies and treatments that can help. Explore some of the top ways to fight back against Xanax addiction.
Addiction Help Through Therapy
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Many factors can lead to a Xanax addiction. Doctors often prescribe Xanax to clients for legitimate reasons, like anxiety or panic attacks. Some clients start taking Xanax under medical supervision but eventually develop an addiction to the drug. However, sometimes non-physical factors are at play.
Often, clients who struggle with drug addiction also struggle with some form of mental health issue. More than half of all people dependent on drugs require treatment for their mental health. To address this strong relationship between mental health and addiction, dual diagnosis treatment may be necessary.
Dual diagnosis is simply the recognition that mental health and substance use are related. Treatment tackles both issues at the same time, rather than focusing exclusively on one or the other. Dual diagnosis often delivers better and longer-lasting results for clients.
Individual Addiction Therapy
Addiction is an incredibly personal issue for each individual. Therefore, every individual client should also have access to frequent one-on-one therapy. Group therapy is also very effective at hearing others’ stories and knowing you are not alone. Individual therapy allows you more time to get to the specific issues that affect your life and behaviors.
A one-on-one environment is ideal for clients who need to open up and be honest about their addiction. To overcome a Xanax addiction, clients need to be comfortable talking about their past, the negative consequences of their addiction, and how they can improve the quality of their life with sobriety.
Sometimes, behavioral therapy in a one-on-one environment can also be helpful for clients who need to adjust their behavior and learn to stop sabotaging their own recovery.
Not all clients have family members who are willing and able to commit to therapy. For those that do, however, having family support can be an incredibly helpful asset in rehab and beyond.
There are two major types of family therapy:
- Therapy with the client
- Therapy without the client
Some therapy sessions won’t include the client. The rest of the family can speak freely and understand more about the nature of addiction and how to help.
In other sessions, the entire family can attend and improve their communication and relationships.
12-Step Approach To Recovery
The 12 steps are almost synonymous with addiction recovery. For many clients struggling with Xanax addiction, following the 12-step approach can be very helpful. Though there’s a spirituality component available for those who choose it, 12-step programs don’t have to focus on either a specific religious organization or the belief in a higher power.
Many clients find that taking a more general, spiritual approach to the 12 steps is just as effective. The systematic nature of learning steps to understand your addiction better and develop recovery tools to overcome past behavior is the core of the 12-step approach.
These steps are never considered one-and-done. Many people choose to revisit them annually to keep focused on all they have gained since recovery. This effort is thoughtful at its core and can be combined with the holistic programs of body, mind, and spirit throughout our program.
Xanax Addiction Treatment at Denver Recovery Center
At Denver Recovery, all clients can expect comprehensive support in their fight against Xanax addiction. The treatment goes beyond just the physical symptoms of addiction. Instead, Denver Recovery treats clients so that they can find meaningful, lasting recovery.
Denver Recovery Center Is Here To Help
Denver Recovery provides intensive outpatient rehab programs as well as a partial hospitalization program. Our professional staff has expertise in treating drug addiction.
Don’t let Xanax or worry about withdrawal decide what kind of life you’ll live. With a combination of help from our holistic, evidence-based rehab program you can reclaim your life and your health. Put yourself and your family first over Xanax. You can put it behind you with a solid rehab program. Call Denver Recovery today at (844) 602-3175 and start your recovery.
- How Do You Get Off Xanax?
People taking Xanax as prescribed should notify their doctor if they wish to discontinue the medication. It will be tapered slowly and possible withdrawal symptoms will be monitored. If you are taking Xanax from a prescription that is not your own, you should notify your doctor or seek a detox center for guidance on how to taper off the medication. There are many withdrawal symptoms that should be watched for, and with proper care you can be made more comfortable during this phase.
- What Is Xanax Addiction Like?
When someone is addicted to a substance but doesn’t have it readily available, they may begin to feel symptoms of withdrawal. Until they can get another dose, they will be uncomfortable, so they enter a cycle of finding another source for their craving. Their focus becomes this cycle and their responsibilities begin to take a back seat.
- What Are Goals To Treat Xanax Addiction?
When treating any addiction, including Xanax, the goal is to gain a healthy mind, body, and spirit in recovery. This begins with admission to a drug rehab that will evaluate you for a co-occurring disorder. If a mental health disorder is also a factor, this will be addressed during treatment. With therapy, a deeper understanding of behaviors leading to addiction will be explored.